In an effort to assist families during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security will be providing free childcare services for children whose parents are working as frontline workers in both the public and private sectors.
It will also be facilitating the delivery of pensions to persons’ homes and create other services to assist the vulnerable population.
Minister with responsibility for the sector, Dr Vindhya Persaud in her budget presentation on Wednesday noted that $22M was set aside for the free childcare services. This forms part of $150M budgeted for frontline workers.
“Within the Ministry, $22M are designated for essential workers to provide childcare services and I feel this is necessary; we have a lot of our working force, women and men, primarily women who have to leave their children unattended,” she said.
This will be available for children under the age of seven; she did not disclose how the programme will be implemented.
The Minister added that one-stop shops are also being established for child abuse victims.
This is being done with funding from the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and was set in motion under the former administration.
“I go further to say there are many other groundbreaking programmes that targets the most vulnerable, the disadvantaged, the underprivileged, people who are differently-abled,” Dr. Persaud said.
The Minister also announced that over 3,000 pensioners will soon be able to receive their monthly payments at home. This will decrease the risk of contracting COVID-19 which can be detrimental for the elderly population.
“We’re in a peculiar situation where we’re reminded to social distance, we’re reminded to take all the preventative measures and we’re going one step further…and we’re delivering to 3,400 pensioners, their pensions to their homes; never been done,” Minister Persaud said.
She added that in the hinterland, her Ministry will be partnering with the Ministry of Local Government to have mobile units take pension closer to where people live.
Further, the Ministry which deals with the majority of the vulnerable citizens will be setting up a survivor advocacy program to provide support to victims of domestic abuse and help more persons to access legal aid services through a partnership with the Ministry of Legal Affairs.
According to Dr Persaud, the night shelter will also be upgraded to ensure that its occupants are trained and placed back into the working class.
“Work with us and let us make people’s lives better…no one, no community should be oppressed and suppressed,” the Minister said to Opposition Members of Parliament.